Jammu and Kashmir Votes Today in Phase 3, Omar Abdullah Among 144 Candidates

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Jammu and Kashmir Votes Today in Phase 3, Omar Abdullah Among 144 Candidates

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah addressing a rally in Pulwama (PTI photo)


Srinagar:  Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and three of his cabinet colleagues are among 144 candidates whose fate will be decided today in the third phase of polling in 16 seats spread across Budgam, Pulwama and Baramulla districts.

Security arrangements in all the three districts have been strengthened in the wake of Friday's violence, where 13 people including security personnel and civilians were killed in four separate terror attacks in the Valley.

All eyes will be on Uri and Tral constituencies, which were hit by violence ahead of the polls. The first two phases of elections in the state saw a record turnout of over 70 per cent, with voters ignoring boycott calls by separatists and militant outfits.

The stakes are high for Peoples Democratic Party as it holds 9 of the 16 Assembly constituencies which have an electorate of 13.69 lakh voters, including 6.51 lakh women. The NC holds only four seats

A total of 144 candidates are in the fray including the Chief Minister, three of his cabinet colleagues and 10 other sitting MLAs. 1,781 polling stations have been set up in the area.

Omar, who chose to contest from Beerwah in Budgam instead of his family bastion of Ganderbal, hopes that some of the recent steps taken by his government for the area will help him sail through the electoral tide from a constituency which was won by PDP candidates in the last two elections.

Among many decisions, the Omar government did not extend the lease to the Army for using Tosamaidan meadows, falling in the Beerwah constituency, as a firing practice range following widespread opposition from the locals. He also ensured that the Army cleared the area of the littered shells, which had claimed more than 60 lives in the past two decades.

Omar, who is also contesting from the Sonawar Assembly seat, was given a rousing welcome when he filed his nomination papers from this constituency last month. He faces a stiff challenge from sitting PDP MLA Mohammad Shafi Wani and Congress nominee Nazir Ahmad Khan, whose father Sarfaraz Khan had won from Beerwah in 2002 elections as a PDP candidate.

Congress and Peoples Democratic Front won one seat each in the last polls while one seat went to Independent.


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